WHAT IS PEER PRESSURE?
Peer pressure is the influence you feel from a person or group of people to do something you might not otherwise consider doing. Peer pressure often happens because you don’t want to be alone or left out. So you go with what other people think in order for them to include you. A peer can be anyone around the same age as you, like a friend, classmate, or even someone you seen on TV and admire. You might try to live up to people’s expectations, but it’s important to be mindful to not have other people’s expectations cloud what you want.
If you’re dealing with peer pressure, you’re not alone.
HOW DOES PEER PRESSURE AFFECT US?
Peer pressure isn’t always a negative thing. It can be a positive influence and help challenge or motivate you to do your best. However, it’s helpful to recognise that peer pressure can also be negative. It can result in you doing something that doesn’t fit with your sense of right and wrong. It’s something everyone has to deal with — even adults. Let’s talk about how to handle it.
Peer pressure might influence you in a number of ways, including:
- Fashion choices
- Alcohol and drug use
- Decision to have a boyfriend or girlfriend
- Choice of who your friends are
- Academic performance
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WHERE DOES PEER PRESSURE COME FROM?
Peer pressure can be present at school or within a broader community. It can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. Peer pressure can affect you in a number of different ways:
- Peer pressure can be as simple and direct as someone telling you what to do. It might be a good idea to talk to someone you trusts if you feel threatened, or if you are being hurt or pressured into something you don’t want to do.
- Peer pressure might not always be obvious to you. It’s not uncommon for a group of friends to have particular habits or activities that they do together. But when you’re with a different group of friends, it might be unlikely that you do those same things. For example, you might only smoke when you are with certain friends, or you might be more likely to study when you are with other friends.
- Sometimes the pressure comes from you. Feeling different from a group can be hard. Sometimes this happens when people move to a new city or start a new school or job. This often means having to make new friends and fit into a new environment.
WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT PEER PRESSURE?
Here are some suggestions that can help you manage peer pressure better.
Value common interests: Hanging out with people who like doing similar stuff may help you avoid a situation where you feel pressured into things you don’t want to do.
Say no: Having the strength to say no can be hard, but it can also make you feel good to stick with what you believe in. Explain to people in a calm way why you don’t want to be part of something, and you might earn respect from others and gain confidence in yourself.
Try not to judge others: If possible, try not to place judgments on other people’s choices. Respecting someone else’s choice may help them to respect yours. Remember that you don’t have to agree with their actions. Focusing on the reasons why you don’t feel happy with the choice might help you to not judge them.
Take action: Taking action against negative peer pressure can be easier when you’re more comfortable in your environment. Standing up for yourself and others can be a way to gain that comfort. Both of these are ways in which you might be able to create a positive atmosphere within a group.
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HOW DO I RESIST PEER PRESSURE?
- Understanding your own values and beliefs
- Have Self-confidence
- Choose your friends wisely
- Talk to a trusted adult
- Don’t make excuses – say exactly how you feel
How do peers pressure?
- Insults: making a person feel bad for not doing something so that they eventually will
- Reasoning: pressure by giving a person reasons why they should do something
- Rejection: pressure by threatening to end a relationship or a friendship
- Unspoken pressure: simply seeing all your peers doing something or wearing something can be s form of pressure
But… there is also positive peer pressure!
- Pressure to not drink/smoke/do drugs
- Pressure to be nice and help others
- Pressure to exercise
While we are constantly influenced by those around us, ultimately the decision to act (or not to act) is up to us as individuals. So when it comes to decision making, the choice is up to you.